Game Stagnancy and Activity


  • Coder

    It was discussed between myself and someone else today - how to keep people interested in grid-play and not off sandboxing whatever they wanted on a game.

    So, what are people's thoughts to keeping players out of private rooms and on-grid and on-theme? This was touched on in a few other threads, even today. How do you encourage public RP, how have you seen it encouraged and rewarded?



  • Make the public RP more interesting.


  • Politics

    @Rook said in Game Stagnancy and Activity:

    So, what are people's thoughts to keeping players out of private rooms and on-grid and on-theme? This was touched on in a few other threads, even today. How do you encourage public RP, how have you seen it encouraged and rewarded?

    On BSG:U, players that run battle/mission scenes for other players get Luck points. I think.

    Otherwise, we RP because we like each other. I think.


  • Pitcrew

    You give people a reason that they need/want to interact with newbies and make sure that it ties back into theme.

    Crisis, plot investigations, limiting actions, random pairing of RP partners are all things I've seen on multiple games that have worked well.


  • Pitcrew

    It's been touched on before I think but make sure there isn't a culture of being unfindable. I've played places where over half the players were unfindable and not idle. it really discouraged looking for public RP when you could never tell who was available.



  • @WildBaboons I kind of like removing private rooms off WHERE.



  • There needs to be reasons to RP with the random person more often than not. The easiest way for this to happen is to have plot, things that are talked about, worked on, planned for. To me its the best way to make things move in a game where there is no dedicated ST like in a Table Top setting. Reward people who want to run and push plot. Reward people for joining in on plot and events. Its the easiest model to keep things flowing with what most staff wants, near 0 touch management.


  • Pitcrew

    If you want people to RP in public, dynamic places code is a godsend, I believe.

    So many good public scenes hit their stride and then peter out because many can't handle too big of a scene, but obviously a good scene is going to attract more people. And so what started out as quality turns into quantity. The ability to create a place on the fly and have people in Discussion A be able to join 'A crowded table' while Discussion B is 'Around the Dead Body' with anyone able to target just their own group for the most part, but also able to send an emote to broadcast to the entire room when necessary or for anyone that hasn't joined a place yet, it's great. The shy ones or the wallflowers can move themselves to 'A spot along the wall' and be joined by the other socially challenged visitors where they can happily out-awkward one another without being overshadowed by the current going-ons of the day.

    And then once the histrionics have died down and the blood is cleaned up and Oktar Nosharik is gleefully counting up his bribes, the dynamic places disappear once empty and life goes on. No @digging or tacky furniture objects necessary.


  • Pitcrew

    @WildBaboons said in Game Stagnancy and Activity:

    It's been touched on before I think but make sure there isn't a culture of being unfindable. I've played places where over half the players were unfindable and not idle. it really discouraged looking for public RP when you could never tell who was available.

    I'll add to this - making it easier for people to connect with people IC. I've pitched this before and got scoffed at, but I'll say it again anyway. The looking for RP tag/channel is horrible (horrible defined as doesn't work well), but if you modified it so that people could add one or more scene-types they were looking for, I think it would be really helpful in getting people to connect.

    So instead of +lrp/on (or whatever the command is)

    it would be:
    +lrp/on Wanting to connect with motorcycle types at the dive bar; Going to woods to track strange tracks.

    Again, you want to give people reasons to connect and tools to help them do that.



  • I STRONGLY endorse places. All the places. Even if it comes excessive. I do, entirely, avoid large scenes because it gets too much to keep up with and is not really fun for me.


  • Creator

    In my opinion, the modern prevailing trend seems to be very anti-meta plot, and as long as that's the case, I'm of the opinion that people aren't going to be particularly invested in the IC trappings of the world.

    If the world isn't moving and evolving with stuff happening in it, and people just make a game and go 'This is the world, this is how it is, and this is how it always will be', why should players care about it?

    If staff don't want a game to be treated like a sandbox, then they shouldn't basically create a glorified sandbox to begin with. Effort has to go into making the world feel like a living and breathing thing. In my opinion, most other solutions are just a bandaid that ignores the root cause of the issue.

    When a world doesn't feel alive, it's going to either be treated like a sandbox or as unimportant in general. Even in the case of staff not wanting to GM things, and want things to be PRP focused, if they want a game to feel alive, then people have to be allowed to run actually important and world affecting PRPs. Staff have to support and and treat PRPs as important and perhaps even allow players to create their own world affecting metaplot if you want a world to feel important while not GMing yourself.

    I'm sure that my perspective on this will be unpopular, but if literally no one is doing any sort of important plot that has any particular consequence beyond that plot , no real staff endorsement, and no real feeling that one can affect or sincerely interact with the theme/world? People are going to treat it like a sandbox.

    And I firmly believe that there's no way around that unless you make your world so small in scope that it's very simple to perceive change within one's environment without plots.

    For example, a school based RP, like, an RP based around a single school, a single small faction, a single superhero team who has a base and leaves that base to do stuff outside of it even though the grid itself is mostly the base? Much, much easier for the game to feel alive with minimal staff intervention.

    In my honest opinion, the larger the scope of the world that you want players to care about, the more necessary plot about that world is going to be. The smaller the scope, the more people feel that their day to day RP is a part of the world, with the option of going out into an even larger world.

    I know that this might sound like I'm pulling shit out of my ass, but consider this: In, say, an anime high school RP, how difficult do you really think it would be for people to do PRPs that they feel invested in without staff putting their approval on it? Not very. It's also, in my opinion, much easier for players not in said RP to feel like it's something happening close to them, a school is a very tangible thing, people know that they know what's going on because their characters are in that school, even if they aren't in the plot.

    A school, or really any particular interior location, is easier for people to buy into as important, as something capable of being tangibly affected, as feeling like a part of the same world as the other players. A city is a significantly harder sell. Because that is what you're doing, you're selling your location as something that should be invested and bought into, as something to care about.

    The larger the location, the harder the sell, the smaller the location, the easier the sell.

    I hope this made sense.


  • Politics

    @HelloProject said in Game Stagnancy and Activity:

    I know that this might sound like I'm pulling shit out of my ass ...

    No, you're pretty dead on.

    1. Give your players the ability to affect the world. Endorse it. Facilitate it.
    2. Have a tight theme, so that whatever your players want to do will fit in to your vision.
    3. Keep the grid small.

    Not too toot it too frequently, but BSG:U has this down-pat. My squad nearly got totally fucked up a few hours ago in a player-run plot. The combat code is unforgiving. And we all had a blast, even though one of us nearly died a horrible death.


  • Creator

    @Ganymede I've been considering joining there lately, even though I'm unfamiliar with the theme. (Humanoid Daleks?!)


  • Pitcrew

    @Ganymede I only almost died, Trash Panda! Next time I take on the Nannybot and @Auspice can be the distraction!


  • Pitcrew

    @HelloProject Think of it this way - humans made robots that are humanoid to like.. do our stuff we didn't want to do. Robots got smart, turned against us. And oh yeah, even before that the colonies didn't like each other.


  • Coder

    @Ganymede said in Game Stagnancy and Activity:

    1. Give your players the ability to affect the world. Endorse it. Facilitate it.
    2. Have a tight theme, so that whatever your players want to do will fit in to your vision.

    What do you think is the best way to achieve 1 and 2? They seem gently contradictory.

    I'm currently running a game in a very metaplot-heavy way that places a lot of weight on me (or staff in general) to run things. It's great when I'm invested, and devolves to casual RP when I take some time away. The game is strong enough to make it through the lulls without QUITE stagnating, but wow, do I see a difference in returning.

    I'm struggling with making players feel empowered to run things. How do I make it a more self-sustaining model? While keeping my vision of theme strong?


  • Pitcrew

    @Tez On the game I'm on (BSG:U), we have the modules separated into campaigns. The current campaign is Picon. When it started, @faraday made a general post with the goals of the mission and what the general conditions were like around the planet and in the space around it. Then she ran a ground scene and a space scene to give us an overview of exactly what's to be expected. Then she opened it up to us to run plots for while she handles the overview plot. By encouraging us to run scenes with the promise of luck points for planned and posted scenes, it keeps things fresh and exciting, especially as each campaign lasts about two weeks to a month with a week or two of leave time between each scene to give people chances to unwind, get in the large social scenes and not feel stagnated by combat all the time.

    So far, the campaigns have been varied - we've had an invasion, a virus outbreak, a natural disaster and guerrilla warfare between Canceron and Tauron. Picon is the first campaign where we have an organized military that still has the ability to help and can rely on, so it changes the dynamic each time. On Canceron, we were the lead military force. On Picon, we're getting missions from them to assist on.


  • Politics

    @Tez said in Game Stagnancy and Activity:

    1. Give your players the ability to affect the world. Endorse it. Facilitate it.
    2. Have a tight theme, so that whatever your players want to do will fit in to your vision.

    What do you think is the best way to achieve 1 and 2? They seem gently contradictory.

    @DownWithOPP summarizes @faraday's method, and I think it's pretty solid.

    Start with 2. On a World of Darkness Vampire game, a tight theme could be "political machine" or "Strix infestation." The players will then know generally what sort of plots staff will run or would like to see. On a Mass Effect game, the players could be on Omega during the Cerberus takeover. On a D&D game, the game could be set around protecting a particular realm from invaders from another kingdom. This differs from the sandbox approach of "this is the Grid, play in it, and make your own drama."

    Then, move to 1. Like BSG:U, you could have modules/plots that mesh with how staff is playing through the metaplot. On the Mass Effect game I mentioned, staff could run a general campaign of "Cerberus is in the lower levels taking over the power plants," and encourage players to play out skirmishes in Omega's underbelly and mines. Particular events like protecting a plant against invasion could be run by staff or players.

    If 1 is going well, the game will self-sustain.

    In another thread, I discussed my views on risk, and here they are: "let the players decide if their characters die." This seems counter-intuitive to the idea of "risk," but it isn't so where there are set objectives to meet or satisfy. If the players lose those skirmishes, it could have an effect on the metaplot: if Cerberus takes the plants or the Cylons crush a scouting patrol, that could negatively effect the campaign, just as success in both encounters may improve the players' situation. And advertise those successes and failures equally, to let the players know that this ain't no cakewalk.


  • Coder

    @DownWithOPP
    @Ganymede

    Those are both methods we've used with more or less success, but I also don't know that I would call that encouraging players to run plots that affect the game. They don't necessarily change the big metaplot angles. How do those smaller plots run within the shell of the -- umm, I'll call it a plot arc -- really impact the word?

    I think you saw this on Arx too, during the siege. There were an ungodly number of small PRP events, but they could feel fairly disconnected and without real impact.

    ETA: I either didn't scroll down far enough or missed the end of Ganymede's post. Those kinds of impacts at the end are definitely what helps. How do you make them felt?



  • @Tez Can't really please everyone there, I have a wide scope of people that feel dynamic change is too much and would prefer things to be more stable, and others who believe it doesn't change enough. I think it doesn't hurt to go into it with a very general and broad idea of a wide open story, and try to consider the tons of ways it can fork and change based on player actions in ways that still are consistent with the underlying game world. The current stories I'm doing aren't really anywhere close to where I figured it would go in terms of forks, but it's still consistent and keeping with the base story. Also if players see very clearly the possible ways things could go, and buy into it, then there's a great deal of investment in the story and that their actions feel very consequential. Course, the danger there is that there's -too- much investment, and players get super pissed at one another for taking it in the other direction they don't like.

    Edit: Wrote it before I saw you mention Arx, about PRPs. That's a fair criticism. The problem there is that GMing systems aren't in, and while I do think some of the PRPs have resulted in more change than people think, it's way too easy to have them be one offs that don't have that much impact, but you kind of need to hit a sweet spot there- too little ability to make change and it feels disconnected, too -much- and the world becomes a sandbox because the central narrative loses its strength as you have a ton of contradictory changes that loses coherency. So I have plans to address that, but didn't think it was super critical to do it yet.


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